THE DECLARATORY VISION AND THE COMMITMENT TO END HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
As at today, over 125 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance around the world. The latest is Sierra Leone where thousands of people have been displaced, rendered homeless and hundreds dead as a result of natural disaster triggered by mudslide. As we observe a minute silence for the dead, we must also feel for the survivors of the crisis in the context of susceptibility, where existing challenges like poverty, unplanned urbanization, food insecurity and exclusion have been compounded by this unfortunate natural disaster.
The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance are changing every minute around the world and this is an evidence that time horizons and the drivers of humanitarian crises are rapidly changing and we need, more than ever, to reaffirm the vision to lead humanity out of the numerous humanitarian crises.
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, humanity underpins the full range of human rights and fundamental freedoms that enable every man, woman and child to live free from fear and want. At the Millennium Summit, humanity was at the heart of the values agreed upon by world leaders to guide international relations in the 21st century. It is interesting to know that the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is built on this vision for humanity. However, despite such affirmations of the centrality of humanity, the concern of hundreds of millions of people around today is whether their country or the international community can turn this vision into a reality for each of them.
Drawing from recent humanitarian crisis in Sierra Leone where there are many questions begging for answers, exposes the commitment to end humanitarian crisis.
It true in Sierra Leone that storms and torrential downpours are at its peak in August and September. Also in 2015, floods killed 10 people and left thousands homeless.
It is also true that mudslide triggered by torrential floods is typically considered a natural disaster, but the uprooting of trees for construction on the hillside which can make the soil unstable and more vulnerable to collapse is man-made.
The questions no is asking are; did the country’s officials warn the residents against unregulated and illegal construction on the overcrowded hillsides? Did the country’s meteorological agency issue a warning to hasten evacuations from danger zones before the torrential rainfall? Will anyone take responsibility for these oversights?
If we must achieve these affirmations of humanity for millions of people in danger of experiencing humanitarian crises resulting from natural disasters, conflicts and wars, we need to go beyond a declaratory vision. We need to become proactive rather than reactivate. We must shape our politics to restore democracy and more importantly, we need to steer our personal behaviour – to value human life first before any other thing.
Ugbabe Adagboyi Damian